This Week in Gear: the 2015 Ford Focus ST, GE Link connected LEDs, Ginger infused bourbon, Trek’s Edmonda SLR 10, Patagonia’s Nano-Air jacket.
Affordable Ways to Your Fuel-Lovin' Heart
Your buddy’s Rosso Corsa Red Ferrari makes your blood boil with envy. Unfortunately, your better half won’t let you mortgage the house so you can buy one yourself. Though they may not have the prancing horse on the grille or elicit gazes from the bold and the beautiful, these 10 affordable driver’s cars still delight with great driving dynamics and the kind of motoring spirit that makes you feel like a kid again.
Glory days on the road
If you’re fortunate enough to possess a Mustang Fastback — one of the grandaddies of the American muscle car — you know the respect and admiration it garners from car lovers to kids. It’s Americana on four wheels. That sort of red, white and blue clout requires a driver to pull off an homage to American style without resorting to a pair of Ol’ Glory lined cutoff jeans. Here, we line up the right kit (light on the actual stars and stripes pattern) you need to get it right.
To drive or ogle? That is the question.
The beauty of classic automotive design is often in direct struggle with modern safety and fuel economy standards, not to mention the latest in technology. But there are still a number of shining examples around today, ones that echo the past and ones that break new ground but don’t break the rules of good taste. These ten prove that less is more and that automotive design is not on the rocks.
When more is way too much
Nissan’s third generation Murano bowed at the New York Auto Show this spring. The reason you didn’t see it in our Ten Best list from the show is because I hate it the way my architect wife hates attached garages and vinyl siding. Car design is trending toward overbearing, thanks in no small part to the tastes of drivers. But there’s still hope out there.
Beach trips can be as much about getting there as what you do when you arrive. Mom’s minivan might be practical, but it might also eviscerate every ounce of road style you’ve ever had. If you’re at the beach on a regular basis (or you just dream of being there 24/7) it might make sense to upgrade your beach ride to one of these sandy shore, white wave seekers.
Don't Judge a Beast by its Cover
It would be a dream come true to own a flaming red Ferrari, but sometimes it’s best not draw attention (jealousy, ire, the eyes of law enforcement) to your vehicle. Those who want the power and speed without the notoriety can look to “sleepers”, cars almost intentionally built to escape notice while still secretly packing heaping loads of power and punch — and chips on their shoulders.
A small group of concepts deliver big production dreams
Though the New York International Auto Show isn’t a haven for many concept cars, there are always a handful of them to get your attention and whet your appetite for what might come. This year, there were four that we could count, and they’re all worthy of your dollars should they make it to production in some form.
America's fifty-year, two-door love affair
No car is more widely considered an American standard than the Ford Mustang. Sure, there’s the Corvette, Camaro, Thunderbird, and GTO, but when you think of the Fourth of July Parade, which car comes to mind? That’s what we thought.
From the original car all the way to the fifth-generation version that pays direct homage to its forefathers, the Mustang simply can’t be confused for any other automobile. On the cusp of welcoming an all-new sixth-generation car created for a world market, we take a look at the life of America’s pony car.
One badass granddaddy
The look is timeless: A muscular body with single round headlights; vents on the hood and rear quarter panels adding a touch of sinister; two bold Guardsman Blue stripes running from tip to tail over a pristine Wimbledon White paint job. It’s the positively beautiful, 100 percent American 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350. No other Mustang in history will ever look this good again.
The Brawler Gets Dressed Up
What has Ford wrought with the 2015 Mustang? It’s rumored to be better than the previous car in virtually every way, but dare we say, it’s also less American and less ‘Stang, at least on its face. In Ford’s quest to make the new Mustang a “world car”, they seem to have lost some of the car’s red, white and blue attitude.
From Good to Great
Some car models start out great but then topple from grace — the Nissan Maxima comes to mind (as much as we try to push it out). Then there are those automobiles that have only gotten better with time, tweaks, and tender loving care. Some have evolved gracefully, while others desperately needed a hefty dose of attention. Here are five models basking in the glow of recent changes that have brought them into their primes.
More crossovers than Iverson
Crossovers are the hottest segment in the automotive industry today thanks to solid fuel economy, practicality and bad-weather driving security. And while that popularity means the field is downright dizzying, there are quite a few excellent options from all corners of the earth. GP’s Octane crew drove five solid examples and came away with loads of insight on what the CUV market has to offer.
The Blue Oval gets Ballsy
The most devilishly good detail in the 2015 Ford F-150 is more than skin deep. In fact, it sits just below the no doubt soon-to-be scuffed paint job. You see, Ford has made its boldest move in decades by building their flagship truck’s body out of aluminum instead of tried-and-true steel. It’s move that’s both expected because of the environmental trend and pioneering due to the vehicle in which Ford has chosen to make the paradigm shift.
Making Detroit Shine
The North American International Auto Show is one of our favorite events of the year. It’s a time when just about every carmaker descends on Detroit, and the moment is a golden one. Picture it with us: gleaming steeds — SUVs, sports cars, sedans, pickups and more — as far as the eye can see, a field that’s tough to whittle down to our favorites. But we’ve done just that with these ten beauties, the best of NAIAS.
The gifts that keep on giving
Just about every morning, before our cup of joe, we slap ourselves as a reminder of how lucky we are to drive some of the best cars in the world and get paid for it. 2013 was another year of stupendous privileges, with wheel time in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Land Rovers, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, BMWs, Aston Martins and more. We’ve been the beneficiaries of a huge upswing in the automotive marketplace in terms of style, quality and driving excitement through virtually all segments. And you know what that means: 2014 should prove to be even better.
Here are the cars we most covet for the new year, each one a standout in its segment by virtue of its quality, technology, design, driving experience or all of the above. In a stellar field, these are the ones that stir the petrol in our veins the most. As we embark on a new year, here’s a toast to what should be an incredible 2014 on the digital pages of Octane.
A father-and-son Mustang project car
My dad and I are alike in a lot of ways — the way we fall asleep in chairs and lose our hair, for instance — but our love of cars has bound us for as long as I can remember. Not long ago I sent my dad a handful of questions about what makes me a car guy and asked him to write quick responses; I got back six pages. (Dad and I also like to tell stories.) And so I realized this story is best told in tandem, with excerpts of his answers interspersed with my own. Together, they are the story of our similarities and our passions, and of the car that is, as my dad put it, “a mild street rod imported from the junction” of the two of us.
Charmed by the snake
A perfect homage to the spirit of Ford’s and Shelby’s original GT 500, the 2014 model takes “steroidal” to a whole new level. Starting at only $54,800, this savage serpent uses all 662 of its horses to hit 202 miles per hour at full speed, though you need only start the engine once to believe it’s capable of extreme and endless thrills. It’s capable of eating pavement for breakfast, lunch and dinner but also perfectly happy cruising around town; just be prepared for rubberneckers.
New Brut Scents Your granddad swore by his Brut products — old standbys, unchanged and reliable for years and years (over 40, actually). Now Brut is launching new scents and a new, modern look. Black Ice, an ambery and aromatic scent, will launch alongside the spicy, grapefruity Blue Wave in January, but worry not —…
Sleighs are for losers
You’re an hour late to the Christmas get-together, but not because that red velvet blazer you love so much is nowhere to be found. No, instead you’re trapped in a snowdrift in your vintage AMC Gremlin. No fruitcake for you. You could’ve fared better this holiday season with some better wheels. May we suggest some truly treaded steeds for your hapless self?
Supercars and sports cars are largely out of reach for the average human, much to our chagrin. But there’s great news for piston-lovers everywhere, too: hot hatches are here to stay, largely due to earth-bound prices, impressive speed in spite of their smaller displacement engines, and everyday practicality that dwarfs many sedans. The 2013 Ford Focus ST ($23,700) is the new hot hatch king, and for good reason. The 252 hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine and sport-tuned suspension ensure it’s fast in the straights and in the curves, and the sublime steering ups the pleasure quotient even further. Plus, it just looks fast. The hard part is stepping out of it after a spirited drive.
Fall for all of them
The end of the summer doesn’t mean that the best driving months are behind us. With the arrival of fall comes cooler temperatures, the rainbow of foliage colors and fewer vacationers on the open roads — all reasons to open up the throttle. But all leaf-scatterers are not created equal. Some have drop-tops for feeling the crisp air zip by your ears and others want to blast snaking backroads; still others will get you, your gear and your family to the annual fall camping spot. These ten cars — our favorites for taking fall driving to the next level — can do it all. If you’re lucky enough to drive one, your winter doldrums just got put on hold.
We're not gonna take it
Just about every car manufacturer has had its “car of shame” at one point or another. The names are easily recognizeable and are usually followed by a full-body cringe: AMC Gremlin, Renault Fuego, Chevy Citation, Oldsmobile Achieva, Volkswagen Fox, Geo Metro, Nissan Pulsar, Cadillac Cimarron, Pontiac Aztek, Ford Festiva, Chrysler PT Cruiser. To our everlasting chagrin, many of the cars we’d rather not have driven have come from right here in America. But things have been improving. Improving a lot, in fact. American cars today are better built and better designed at just about every level, and they’re even competitive with once out-of-reach European performance cars.
More beautiful beasts of burden
Baseball, apple pie and trucks: all iconic, savory slices of Americana. The urban cowboy may have given the pickup a bad rap, but don’t let that sour the segment. These ain’t your granddad’s haulers. No sir, the trucks of today have taken fuel efficiency to an all-time high in the segment, for starters, and have added touches of interior and exterior class that leave little to be desired, even when compared against luxury makers.
Yes, the beloved truck has changed, but it remains grounded in its roots as a tree-stump-puller. Indeed, the core functionality of the pickup truck has remained nearly unchanged through the years — that is, it still has the ability to blast copious amounts of diesel exhaust over smug, hybrid drivers. We found time to drive and rate the five best full-sized models on the market. Which one you choose is between you and your payload.
Pages of legends
Every man’s library should consist of great books. Of course, regardless of how many classics you’ve read, if you’re a devotee of automobilia, your shelves should also house some truly great car books. We take a look at some of the best automotive books around in hopes that you’ll get your hands on some of them, park yourself in a comfy chair and spend a weekend afternoon imagining the sights, sounds and smells of great motoring.
It truly is a party
Though the Ford Fiesta (not to be confused with the midget-special Ford Festiva) has been around since 1976, it wasn’t available stateside until 2011. Back then, we enjoyed the original 1.6-liter 120 hp inline four cylinder hatch but longed for more pep. Obviously the engineers behind the Shelby GT500 and the F150 Raptor SVT follow Gear Patrol closely, because they answered our need for more zip with the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST ($22,000).
After twelve generations of model updates, the Ford SVT Raptor is arguably the most tenacious version of the Blue oval’s numerous F-150 iterations. Truly testing this machine called for something more than a few days piddling around Los Angeles, so when when we were invited to go attend the one-day Raptor Assault School at Miller Motorsports Park in the wide open Utah countryside we moved quicker than a rattle snake on the floor of a country line dance. What we drove was an out-of-the box, insanely capable machine able to run, jump and crawl over just about anything in its path.
Conquering the beast
We spent a full day at the Ford Racing F-150 SVT Raptor Assault School at Miller Motorsports Park in Toole, Utah, learning the finer points of hill climbing, mixed terrain blasts and bona-fide offroading, all the while tossing the F-150 Raptor so hard that its dusty rooster tails could be seen from space. Read on to watch the GP Short and to find out more about our upcoming feature.
Carrera Foldable Helmet This biking helmet is for you if (a) you take part in a two-wheel commute in the city, where storage space is at a premium, and/or (b) you have a fat head (okay, any size head is fine). The frame expands and contracts for a space saving stowage; inside, an elastic system…
Time to Drive
Wheels and gears, second hands and tach needles, power trains and power reserves. Men have always been fascinated by time, speed, accuracy and power — and the beautiful combination of high-end timepieces and exotic roadgoing automobiles captures these obsessions appropriately. And whether the watch of choice is used to measure lap splits or to simply echo the same kind of quality and heritage as his car, you can be assured that careful time was taken to select both. We match up some of the best in timekeeping and automobilia in Gear Patrol style.